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Geography

Area: total: 9,250 km² (of which 3,355 km² are under the administration of TRNC)
Area - comparative: about 0.6 times the size of Connecticut, 0.7 times the size of Northern IrelandCoastline: 648 km
Highest point: Olympus 1,952 m
Natural resources: oil, copper, pyrites, asbestos, gypsum, timber, salt, marble, clay earth pigment
Geographic coordinates: 35° N 33° E: 34°33’–35°34’ N; 32°16’–34°37’ E

Cyprus is the third largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, after the Italian islands of Sicily and Sardinia. In the Eastern Basin of the Mediterranean, it is located south of the Anatolian peninsula (Asia Minor), or modern-day Turkey, of the Asian (or Eurasian) mainland; thus, it is generally included in Western Asia, or the Middle East, geographically.

cyprus geography
Topographic map of Cyprus (Enlarge)

See satellite photos of Cyprus: photo 1, photo 2, photo 3, photo 4

Cyprus measures 240 kilometres latitudinally and 100 km longitudinally, with Turkey 75 km to the north. Other neighbouring territories include Syria and Lebanon to the east (105 km and 108 km, respectively), Israel 200 km to the southeast, Egypt 380 km to the south, and Greece to the west-north-west: 280 km to the small Dodecanesian island of Kastellórizo (Meyísti), 400 km to Rhodes, and 800 km to the Greek mainland.

The physical setting for life on the island is dominated by the mountain masses and the central plain they encompass, the Mesaoria. The Troodos Mountains cover most of the southern and western portions of the island and account for roughly half its area. The narrow Kyrenia Range, extending along the northern coastline, occupies substantially less area, and elevations are lower. The two mountain systems run generally parallel to the Taurus Mountains on the Turkish mainland, whose silhouette is visible from northern Cyprus. Coastal lowlands, varying in width, surround the island.

While the Troodos Mountains are a massif formed of molten igneous rock, the Kyrenia Range is a narrow limestone ridge that rises suddenly from the plains. Its easternmost extension becomes a series of foothills on the Karpass Peninsula. That peninsula points toward Asia Minor, to which Cyprus belongs geologically.

Even the highest peaks of the Kyrenia Range are hardly more than half the height of the great dome of the Troodos massif, Mount Olympus (1,952 meters), but their seemingly inaccessible, jagged slopes make them considerably more spectacular. British writer Lawrence Durrell, in Bitter Lemons, wrote of the Troodos as "an unlovely jumble of crags and heavyweight rocks" and of the Kyrenia Range as belonging to "the world of Gothic Europe, its lofty crags studded with crusader castles."

 

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